Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has just announced that he will not be able to defend his title at the U.S. Open, which begins on Monday, August 25, due to a wrist injury. The defending champion made the announcement on his Facebook page, after a period in which Nadal continually postponed the decision to play or withdraw. He finally confirmed on Monday that he has pulled out of the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Not new to pain and injury
Nadal has gone through several injuries throughout his career, some of them occurring at major events such as the Grand Slam tournaments. Nadal, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the world, injured his wrist while training in Majorca on July 29. Due to the injury he missed two warmup tournaments, the Masters in both Toronto and Cincinnati. He had hoped for a full recovery in time for the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, but it is not to be.
The announcement came as no surprise, as he had been wearing a light cast over the last two weeks. Even if his wrist had healed, the rigors and demands of the game—especially during a Slam, where the stakes are higher—are heightened, and the risk may not be worth it.
In 2009 Nadal was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon, where he was also defending his title, due to trouble with his knees. (His knees have usually been the reason for his withdrawals from previous tournaments.) At the 2011 Australian Open, a hamstring injury forced him to retire, while this year, he was not completely fit for the finals in Melbourne due to back pain—he settled as the runner-up to Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, who won his first ever Grand Slam title.
It is always a tough decision to pull out of a game that you love. But Nadal explained that he had already accepted the situation, and promised his fans that he would work harder to be fit so he could compete again at the highest level. Nadal has not played in a tennis competition since he was defeated in the fourth round of this year’s Wimbledon by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios. His withdrawal from the U.S. Open means that the playing field has opened wider.
Contenders for this year’s U.S. Open are Serbian Novak Djokovic, who won the U.S. Open in 2011, beating Nadal in four sets; however, after his summer wedding, he has not settled into the hard courts of North America. Andy Murray of Great Britain is another contender; although, he is not playing at his best right now. There is still Roger Federer, of course. Federer has bounced back and this summer he has become the hottest player once again. He claimed the Cincinnati Masters after reaching the final in the Toronto Masters—two appropriate lead-up tournaments to the US. Open, where his nemesis, Nadal, will be absent. With Nadal out of the U. S. Open, the Swiss’ chance of winning the tournament has dramatically improved. Nadal’s withdrawal also means that Federer will move up to claim the No. 2 spot.